Get Northants Reading: Help transform children’s lives

Sue Porto of Beanstalk
Sue Porto of Beanstalk

The CEO of a charity which aims to get more young people reading says it is vitally important nobody misses out on the ability to read.

Sue Porto, from Beanstalk, which has teamed up with the Telegraph as part of our Get Northants Reading campaign, says such drives are also key in improving society as a whole.

Ms Porto used to work in the prison service, and said her experience there has taught her how cost-effective high literacy rates could be.

She said: “One in four young offenders is functionally illiterate. It’s so undermining of one’s confidence and self-esteem. If you don’t believe in yourself you try to find an identity elsewhere.”

Our county has not fared well in children’s literacy levels, which is what prompted Beanstalk to make concerted efforts here.

Ms Porto said: “For Northamptonshire, we know there’s a great need.

“The most recent SATs results showed 17 per cent of eligible pupils in the county council area unable to read at the required level. That’s 1,300 children.”

She said the county ranked 131st out of 150 local education authorities in England.

She said: “We are already working in 66 schools in Northamptonshire but we want to double the number of volunteers in Northamptonshire in the course of the next five years.”

And even though the Get Northants Reading campaign has only been running for a month, Ms Porto said it had already had noticeable positive effects.

She said: “Since the campaign launched we have received 40 applications from volunteers and we have also raised £15,000.

“We would like to be able to raise more. We want to raise £55,000 to support activity over the course of the next year. It’s a way to go, but it’s a great start.”

And to potential volunteers she said: “It can be quite daunting at first, but when you see the immediate impact you think, ‘Gosh, this is really transformational’.”